Thursday, August 28, 2008

A little help for my friends

Just wanted to take a few minutes and offer boosts on a couple of different subjects ...

Some of you know I'm big on mixtapes. Have been since they were actually tapes. But nobody is as big on them as a woman I know and admire in Portland, Julesy, aka The Mixtress. She founded a CD exchange program which, regretfully, I've fallen behind on.

I wish I could say that's the worst that's happened. Jules has fallen ill -- Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, to be exact. Though she has a number of online friends and musical connections staging benefit shows on her behalf, she still needs some help. She offers more details, including how you can help out, here. She's led a wonderful life so far, from what she's shared online with myself and others. The least any of us can do is help her keep it going.


On a lighter note, two of my blogging role models are involved in a different type of campaign: they're fighting to become pin-ups.

There's a Hot Blogger Calendar campaign going on, and The SlackMistress and her husband, BeTheBoy -- collectively known as BeTheMarriage -- are in contention to be part of the final print. To vote Slack onto the female calendar, go here and double-click to vote for The SlackMistress

To vote BeTheBoy onto the male calendar, go here and double-click to vote for be the boy.

Forty-five years ago today.

It's The Office meets Heroes ...

... and it looks awesome. I give you No Heroics. Get on the bandwagon and check the fansite here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

As Seen On Racialicious: TIC vs. Jet Li!

I started reading Racialicious a few months ago, and got hooked from the get-go. So when they were looking for someone to review The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor, I didn't hesitate, even if it meant paying $11.50 to watch The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor. You might be surprised to learn there's another level of Suck to this flick -- let me explain here.

OLD MEMES: The Two (Three? Four?) Doctors

Old Memes is where we'll catch up with items from earlier in the summer. As such, there's going to be spoilers here. Just thought I should warn you. First off, everybody's two favorite juggernauts of faux-medical mischief. Two different doctors, and very different stories, but one common problem: both faltered at the end.

It was harder to escape Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, seeing as how it was a joint by OMFG TEH JOSS, the first one since Serenity, if you weren't already reading his work on Astonishing X-Men, and the new Buffy and Angel comics.

Add all that expectation and a healthy dose of NPH, and it's a wonder as many people enjoyed this musical as much as they did. The problem, for me, was that though it focused the best aspects of Once More With Feeling, it also reinforced, non-surprisingly, Joss' favorite trope: Love Never Lasts. While I get why Penny had to die -- personally, I would've written her to upend both Doctor Horrible and Captain Hammer and emerged as Penny Dreadful, supervillainess extraordinaire -- the fact that I read the same trope in Astonishing literally less than a week before watching the Horrible finale left me more frustrated than "saddened," not because it was "tragic" but because I'd seen this trope played out by the same creator for the past few years. And in Penny's case it came perilously close to making her another Girlfriend In The Refrigerator. Judging by the response, perhaps it was worth it. But, as Whedonites prepare for Dollhouse and hope it doesn't get canceled before the opening credits, one has to wonder how many more times the Unhappy Ending can get foisted upon us.

Conversely, Doctor Who brought the Feel-Good for its' own season ending -- and suffered for it.

Would anybody have complained if The Stolen Earth, with the best cliffhanger this side of Heroes Season One, ended the year? With a whole country and Whovians the world over wondering if Russell T. Davies and crew had the stones to pull the trigger on D. Tennant? I watched the episode alongside a native Briton and she screamed almost as loudly as I did when the Dalek shot The Doctor at the worst possible, Whedon-worthy moment. That, fellow geeks, is how you pull off tragic romances. The ending was just the topper to an hour that played like the best fanfic you never wrote: everybody showed up, seemingly every arcane bit of space lingo was explained, all the little character bits and nods to continuity, Jack Harkness somehow able to pull off being a PG-13 manwhore (again), a genuinely creepy Davros, and Rose F'ing Tyler back in the game, and then that ending ...

... Unfortunately, there had to be another episode following it. Worse yet, it was Journey's End, which nearly topped last season's "Last Of The Time Lords" for cheesiness. I'm not saying it killed the series, as some others have, but you have to wonder if the original title wasn't "Dalek Ex Machina," the way this episode stumbled around, drunk on its' own attempts on giddyness and Gotchas. This was like watching that really bad fanfic you did write make it on to the screen.

My big problem with the episode was, unfortunately, Donna Noble. Not Catherine Tate; her performance only got better as the season went on, culminating in Turn Left, which took "It's A Wonderful Life" for a dark, dark ride. But, aside from that episode, the writers' constant positioning of Donna as The Most Important Person In The Universe rang hollow. It's as if they were overcompensating for both Rose and Martha Jones. So when she was able to "regenerate," thus creating the Alternate Doctor (Doctor2? Doctor Lite?) and making herself into a sort-of Doctor, it fell flatter still.

For her character arc to be truly paid off, Donna needed to die, and not that "death of personality" we got handed at the end of the series. She could have had a grand death, a heroic death, one that might have justified her role as the fulcrum of seemingly the whole season. Instead, we got another cop-out. That's two years in a row; can Stephen Moffat prevent a hat trick?

As far as next year goes, I'm looking forward to the truncated Torchwood season, presumably with Mickey and Martha on the team. And I'm intrigued by the final shot we saw of the Doctor this year: alone, tired, confronting his own legacy. Will perhaps the greatest Doctor of them all get the exit he deserves?


Most people dream about dancing under the lights when they're 17 or 18, a slow dance with somebody special, marking the end of their adolescence in that crazy, romantic way we all like to think of those years. I didn't get that moment until I was about to graduate from college ...
"Let’s never come back here again, because it’ll never be as much fun."
Scarlett Johansson, Lost In Translation

I met her when I was 23, during my senior year at San Diego State. We were both interning at the Newspaper Association of America convention in Coronado. Unlike other journalism groups, NAA is comprised of publishers. Meaning, these people could throw a friggin’ party.

The convention was held at the Hotel Del Coronado, the most gaudily expensive hotel in town; the one where Some Like It Hot was filmed; the one that screams Money like none other.

Myself and the other interns were there to report on the conference for the NAA’s trade magazine, Presstime. We were put up at a smaller hotel across the street, so I still couldn’t tell you what it’s like to stay inside the hotel itself. But, our rooms were paid for, as were all our meals in and out of the convention, and we got a $200 stipend to boot.

She was a senior in her early thirties at Cal State Northridge, who had come into journalism late in her life, and the oldest of the eight-person group. The age difference didn't stop her from joining the rest of us for some uneventful bar-hopping in Pacific Beach the first night. The next day, while telling our East Coast-bred supervisors about PB, she complained they didn’t play music she knew, when my mouth outraced my brain yet again.

"They played the Bee Gees," I chimed in, drawing oohs and laughter from around the room. Across from me, however, her look told me she was amused, but was going to out smart-ass me at some point.

Oddly enough, she never did. Or maybe she did. Most of the weekend I was too drunk to remember. Our drinks were on the house, too. And there were plenty of parties where we all took advantage of that.

I do remember the group stumbling back to our hotel the second night, after a few of these soirees. Late in the evening, my head was on her lap as she talked about her life, and her marriage.

Yeah, the coolest girl on the planet was married. I asked her why I couldn't meet a girl just like her. She kissed me on the forehead and called me a mensch. I remember smiling widely when she told me it's the Yiddish word for gentleman.

The convention's biggest and final party was held the next night, at an Air Force hangar. The hosts, the Copley family, who own the San Diego Union-Tribune, allegedly paid $2 million to convert the hanger into a gigantic ballroom. A rumor was going around that The Brian Setzer Orchestra was performing. A smaller, nameless orchestra was playing as the interns and I tried not to be too agog by the size of the party while sitting at our table. Then she stood and looked right at me.

"Hey Art, wanna warm up the dance floor?"

This is why every man should learn ballroom dancing. We danced the whole night, straight thru Setzer’s "surprise" concert. By the time the band played "Stray Cat Strut," halfway through the set, I had taken off my shoes and my jacket, and I didn't care if they ever came back. Under the blue lights, I thanked her for giving me the Prom Night I never had. For the best night of my life.

The convention ended two mornings after we left the dance floor. Like summer campers and interns since the beginning of time, we exchanged information and wishes of meeting up again soon, even as I couldn’t stop crying. It was the most I’d cried in a decade. But, as any camper knows, those wishes don’t often come true. And I only spoke to her a few times after that tearful morning.

I made my peace with that experience awhile back, but that line from Johansson above brought it back in my mind quicker than a shot. And it made me smile. Because if nothing else, she never did get me back. Or maybe she did. I only remember the good parts.

There is no Ever After, only what happens next ...

Time to get back on the horse.

If you'll forgive my bluntness, these past few months have been rather depressing. I won't go into the reasons behind that right now, but I need to kick this thing up again, for my own sake. Recent days have been ... better, but not in that happy shiny holy shit, everything's going to Be Alright way you'd want to expect. I don't know if that moment of being "over it" is ever going to come. Not that I sit around and mope. I just feel ... diminished, somehow.

But rest assured, I have been trying to work toward what people would call "a better place." Even though I haven't been writing, I have become a pretty good reader and commenter at a group of blogs that I hope you've found or will find: Racialicious, Occasional Superheroine, MightyGodKing, ThinkProgress and Comic By Comic.

Last night, I attended a get-together for local bloggers, several of whom use this service. The group seemed a little tech-heavy for my tastes, but nice enough. I hope to meet more of them soon, maybe forge some new connections. And, I'm proud to tell you that tomorrow, I'll be published at Racialicious, giving you another set of reasons why the new Mummy movie sucks. I'm also going to introduce Callback Flashbacks -- repostings from my older blog, of funny stories from older roadtrips. We'll have one later today, in fact.

Mostly, I'm here to tell you that this isn't the End of something or the Beginning of something else. Such formal descriptions are lost on me these days. There's only my choices and my plans, and the things I want to talk about. From there, I have to build the rest.